I titled this post “Home for the Holidays,” because I’d like to write a post about our new house! In the past 3 months, Tristan and I have gone through the agonizing, emotionally-charged process of buying our first home…and it was worth it. Below is an Instagram that was taken earlier this month of our house the weekend after we moved in on December 3rd.
To say that I can explain to you how this happened would be a lie – I can’t explain it; it was all God’s doing. But I will try to summarize the series of events that lead to the purchase of this beautiful home.
It was the end of September. By this time, Tristan and I had been looking for another rental property for months. The longer we looked, the further from the city our search took us, but nothing seemed the right size, for the right price that wasn’t falling apart. It was my prayer that we would find another place to live before it got too cold since it felt like we had barely survived 2013’s polar vortex in our brick and plaster apartment. I remember praying one night, with tears in my eyes, that I just didn’t want to be cold again. And I didn’t really want more of the same dirty places that I had become used to – I felt that I had tried still, to make the apartment nice and home to me- but it wasn’t , and after our first winter there I once again felt trapped in a pit I couldn’t escape.
One day, our home search took us to Pottstown. It was a old, weird, blue house with faded paint. It had been lived in quite a few times though, upon walking through it, I couldn’t imagine how any one stayed there for any significant length of time. The walls were all in weird places, the rooms and stairs were tiny, even by my standards; the place had seen better days. But instead of leaving in tears as I had left many other potential homes before, I was past that, and determined to buy something – nothing we could rent seemed worth it, so we reluctantly decided that the apartment would have to do until we could buy something. Then another couple came to the house as we were about to leave. We talked a while and they advised us to look on Craig’s List. “Why not?,” we said, “What do we have to lose at this point?”
That night, while I had all but forgotten the encounter, Tristan was in his office, entering a search into Craig’s List for our desires in a home – and there it was, this house. He called me to come in an look at it. The listing detailed that the owner would help the buyer qualify for a mortgage, even assist with closing costs, and that even an individual with bad credit could qualify under the right circumstances and for a higher monthly payment. The house looked nice and the appliances were new – it had been renovated. We figured that it was a long shot but I didn’t see the harm in looking at it in person and neither did he. I made the call.
Days later, we had toured the house and instantly became impressed with the condition of it and the renovations that had been done. It was beautiful. Everything was new. The appliances were still wrapped in plastic. It was not too big, but not small. It had bamboo floors, and lot of light coming in. It was perfect.
We ended the tour in the basement and stood there talking with the realtor about our credit and past struggles with housing.
“Well, how much can you put down?” he asked. I told him.
“How quickly do you want to move?”
I hesitated, but answered, “As soon as possible…I’d like to move in November, before it starts snowing.” I said.
He said that he thought that could be done.
I called my mom that night. I told her that we may have found a house. As if she knew what was on my mind she said, “To rent, or to buy?”
“To buy.” I said.
Another few days or so had passed before we heard from him again. He had talked with the owner; she was a lady in her late 50s/early 60s, and wanted to be closer to her family, thus, deciding to abandon her project – the house would soon be buying from her. “She has decided to sell it to you.” he said. I was floored, because I knew that other people were looking at it. He said the neighbors liked us and advised the owner to sell it to us! A move of God, for certain. I know because can’t explain it.
I remember little about what happened next except that the next week at work I was speaking with our broker, telling him my life story in dollar amounts and giving a complete account of all my financial sins. After I had deferred my student loans (twice during the process) I just remember him saying, “Okay. You should be fine to buy the property.” I kept repeating those words in my head.
The weeks following were a blur. I remember meeting our realtor at the Starbucks by my work (which I still go to…that’s another post) to sign the agreement of sale – the first stack of MANY papers I would sign in the next month. Since we had not gotten pre-approved before we signed the agreement, we had to go through underwriting and loan approval, which was the first of several nerve-racking, tear-inducing situations to resolve. To make a long story short, we were figuratively biting our nails the entire time…
First, the loan needed to get approved – which eventually happened with a small mortgage lender that would actually take a financial “lost cause” like us, with our mountain of student loan debt and bad credit wrought by the mistakes of our past. Of course, that meant that the lender was slow and the waiting was unbearable.
Underwriting took weeks. I was crazy with worry. I made calls to our broker and realtor all day long. I scraped together everything I had on every penny I spent. I found myself writing formal letters in defense of my past financial mistakes, promising that I was going to do whatever it took to fix my credit. ‘Yes,’ I thought ‘I want this more than anything. I’ll do whatever it takes.’ And I did…